Lightbulb moment at the canter today
So my last 3 dressage tests have had the same comment, "horse on forehand" during the canter circles. I am very body position challenged at the canter and usually look something like an 8 year old attempting to ride a mechanical bull with legs, arms and torso going in all different directions. My horse does not find canter to be an easy gait due to his conformation, and I think I had gotten lazy and decided between the two of us, it was just going to stay a 6 or 7.
You all know how much time I spend on these forums. Multiply that by 3 other forums and a lot of down time at work and I've picked up a few tidbits. I remember Kayty saying something about keeping your elbows glued to your sides at the canter and following with your hips or something to that affect. On another forum, I had mentioned my forehand canter while suggesting to another poster that it helps to really push your horse's balance limits at all gaits to increase your scores. Someone else mentioned that my horse might very well have good balance at the canter but something else might be missing instead. It was then that my brain went DUH and I realized I was pushing his limits without supporting him at the same time.
Today I warmed up riding squares at the walk and trot all geared toward inside leg/outside rein. Once he was not protesting at the 90 degree turns, we softened the squares to an octagon and finally a circle. I still kept asking for more more more, but being careful to frequently half halt and keep him balanced on that outside rein. We then tried the elusive canter. I sat tall, opened my shoulders and really thought about Kayty's advice about the elbows being part of the torso. When my horse took a stride that felt like he was losing his balance, I did a hard half halt or added a point of the octagon to keep him on that outside rein. For the first time in a long time, his canter felt GOOD. I could feel my hips moving, he felt light on his feet, he seemed to relax despite being asked for so much more. I wish I had it on video to see if it looked as how it felt, but it was an interesting ride. These forums can be great things for solving puzzles.
You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.